PETANQUE’S ORIGIN

Jim Knapp, Debbie Knapp, and Jean-michel Poulnot on Bastille Day 2021. This year’s Bastille Day Fête and Tournament is July 16.
Jim Knapp, Debbie Knapp, and Jean-michel Poulnot on Bastille Day 2021. This year’s Bastille Day Fête and Tournament is July 16.

Born from accommodation to disability, the Pétanque origin story is one of the most interesting in sport.
The game “Boule Lyonnaise” first appeared in France, and in Italy as “Bocce Volo,” in the 18th century. The game was physically demanding, played with large, heavy boules on a long court about 30 yards in length. The jack was thrown out from a circle to a distance of about 15-22 yards. Because of the long throwing distance, players took one big step forward when pointing and three energetic, running leaps forward in the style of a long jump when shooting.
In the south of France, especially around Marseille, Boule Lyonnaise was officially called “Jeu Provençal” and popularly known as “Le Trois Pas” (Three Steps) or “La Longue.” It was essentially identical in rules and format but frequently played on open, uneven ground and often with smaller boules. Both games are still played today.
Early in the 20th century, a well-regarded former La Longue player, Jules Hugues (known to history as “Jules Lenoir” because his nickname was “Blackie”) had become unable to meet the physical demands of the game because of arthritis. Out of his disability, Pétanque was born in 1907 in the Mediterranean coastal village of La Ciotat. While sitting on his chair watching a game, Lenoir began rolling some boules a few meters away. Ernest Pitiot, the owner of a nearby café that rented chairs for spectators, observed Lenoir and proposed playing on a much shorter terrain and eliminating the runups.
Thereafter, evolving modifications made the ancient game immediately accessible regardless of age, gender, or mobility limitations and the new format was instantly popular.
In 1910, “Boules Pieds Tanqués” (“feet planted”), soon to be known as “Pétanque,” was recognized as its own distinct game, played on an open terrain half the length of Jeu Provençal with smaller, lighter boules; half the distance for placing the jack (about 6 to 10 yards), and the requirement of staying within the circle with feet planted to point and to shoot. Today Pétanque is enjoyed as a casual game as well as an amateur and professional sport by an estimated 12 million players in over 160 countries around the world.

PÉTANQUE IN OAKMONT WEDNESDAY & SATURDAY
The Club encourages all Oakmonters who may be interested in playing or learning to play pétanque (pay-tonk) to come to the courts between Berger and the OVA offices at 9:45 a.m. on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. The Club has boules to lend while learning, and you’ll be playing right away. No dues are required – just sign up to be on the Club roster. Club play days are casual friendly games with teams randomly assigned.
The Bastille Day Fête, the next tournament and picnic potluck lunch, is on Saturday, July 16.
IMAGE

Taking one big step forward when pointing in Boule Lyonnaise.

Jim Knapp, Debbie Knapp, and Jean-michel Poulnot on Bastille Day 2021. This year’s Bastille Day Fête and Tournament is July 16.

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